History of IFRM

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International Fire Relief mission


Protecting lives through education and equipment.

Mission Statement

International Fire Relief Mission is a charitable organization that's mission is to provide life-saving assistance to active-duty firefighters and rescue personnel in countries lacking adequate education or equipment; provide specialized demonstrations on using donated fire and rescue equipment in accordance with internationally recognized standards; and ensure successful, long-term assistance by developing international partnerships and collaborations for continued support, preparation and accountability at the receiving country.


IFRM will help firefighters the world over support each other for the safety of those they protect.


To provide humanitarian aid and education to communities with established or developing emergency services that lack sufficient fire and rescue equipment.


The International Fire Relief Mission was established in 2007 after Ron Gruening, a retired critical-care paramedic and active volunteer firefighter, returned from Moldova. Moldova is a former Soviet Bloc country about the size of Maryland between Romania and the Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Ron and Mark spent much of their time listening to local firefighters tell stories of how they often stood helplessly by burning houses or apartment buildings knowing they were too ill-equipped and ill-trained to rescue those inside. The fire chief told the visitors that firefighter injuries and deaths were all too common in Moldova. Ron and Mark saw firsthand the inadequate and out-dated equipment — equipment such as old, crackled rain suits that served as turnout gear; tattered gloves and boots; and Cold War era military surplus helmets with plastic visors attached as an afterthought. This motley collection of personal protective equipment offered absolutely no defense against heat and toxic chemicals released during structure fires. Additionally, the firefighters relied on an insufficient water supply as their main line of defense.

Even as many local governments in the United States are wondering how they will pay for services in this recession, the American public knows that when it calls 911 a team of highly trained and well-equipped medical and fire professionals will be on scene in no more than 10 minutes, and often in less than five minutes. Americans expect fire and EMS personnel to be at the ready, because for so many decades they have heroically answered every call from a small trash fire to blazing skyscrapers. In spite of their daunting circumstances, the Moldovan firefighters continue to willingly put their lives in danger to rescue and save civilians. Amazingly, their call to service, pride and honor is equal that of those firefighters serving American communities.


After returning home, Ron and Mark established the International Fire Relief Mission and spent several months garnering support from fire departments and corporations across the upper Midwest. Collectively these groups have provided IFRM with such new and used protective gear as helmets, fire-protective coats and pants, boots, gloves, air packs and masks, spare air tanks, air-tank filling and storage systems, hand tools, hose, nozzles, water-rescue equipment, compressors, and generators. These types of items were insured just over $500,000 and filled a 40-foot sea container. In November 2007, six IFRM staff and volunteers returned to Moldova to deliver the sea container of donated equipment and to provide specialized demonstrations on the equipment's safe and proper use to the local fire and EMS personnel. In September 2008, IFRM delivered more supplies and training to Ukraine and Moldova. After that trip, IFRM representatives represented the United States by speaking at an International Fire Relief/Aid conference in the United Kingdom.

IFRM's has:

    * 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation status
    * A corporate board of directors
    * A board of advisors for both FIRE and EMS
    * A small office staff to handle daily demands
    * An office and warehouse space in Minnesota
    * Equipment collection centers in several states
    * Monthly donations of new and used equipment shipped to its warehouse
    * Volunteers to inspect and pack equipment for overseas shipping
    * Support from global corporations
    * Endorsement from several state fire departments and state fire chiefs associations
    * Received national and international news coverage

Scheduled Activities

The response to IFRM and requests for its assistance has been overwhelming. IFRM is collecting and packing equipment for deliveries in 2009 to communities in Bolivia, Honduras' Roatan Island and Costa Rica. Finally, in 2010, IFRM is planning a delivery to a remote air base in Papua, New Guinea. IFRM also is responding to requests that include search & rescue techniques, levels of EMS, high-angle rescue, advance firefighting, auto extrication and much more. IFRM currently is exploring how to best handle donated fire apparatus.


Each IFRM team delivery cost is typically $25,000. Its current capital campaign is to raise $300,000 to cover the costs associated with collecting, warehousing, packing, shipping, and overseas programs to deliver this emergency equipment and provide the demonstrations for its proper use.

Opportunities and Benefits

The United States, through groups like the National Fire Protection Association, has some of the most sophisticated standards for fire and EMS equipment. Much of the equipment donated to IFRM follows recent AFG awards to communities. Through an effective recycling effort the IFRM provides a means for surplus fire and rescue equipment from fire departments across the United States to save lives elsewhere.

                                                                                   International Fire Relief Mission TM 


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